Analysis of Satya Nadella’s first email: delayed-but still-here it is.


From: Satya Nadella
To: All Employees
Date: Feb. 4, 2014

Subject: RE: Satya Nadella – Microsoft’s New CEO (His note is  part of an email chain that probably announced him taking over- desire to put things in context- I am  writing this letter- because I’ve been appointed CEO- that’s the logic)

Today is a very humbling day for me. It reminds me of my very first day at Microsoft, 22 years ago. Like you, I had a choice about where to come to work. I came here because I believed Microsoft was the best company in the world. I saw then how clearly we empower people to do magical things with our creations and ultimately make the world a better place.  (departure from logic, he could be signalling here by using words like magic- that the logical approach that  got him till here, wont get him much farther-he is ready for a more imaginative approach)

I knew there was no better company to join if I wanted to make a difference. This is the very same inspiration that continues to drive me today.( at the core this is a  promise to employees- that if you continue at Microsoft, good things will happen to you and those whose lives you touch)

It is an incredible honor for me to lead and serve this great company of ours. Steve and Bill have taken it from an idea to one of the greatest and most universally admired companies in the world. I’ve been fortunate to work closely with both Bill and Steve in my different roles at Microsoft, and as I step in as CEO, I’ve asked Bill to devote additional time to the company, focused on technology and products. (humility, self-acceptance and complete understanding that all the decisions wont be his alone) I’m also looking forward to working with John Thompson as our new Chairman of the Board. (had to be said, a ‘no way out’ part of a  thank you speech)

While we have seen great success, we are hungry to do more. Our industry does not respect tradition — it only respects innovation. This is a critical time for the industry and for Microsoft. Make no mistake, we are headed for greater places — as technology evolves and we evolve with and ahead of it. (image-shift: innovation is not the key word associated with Microsoft as a company. That word belongs to Apple in the minds of the people of the world. Here, he’s making a strong statement for the future)

Our job is to ensure that Microsoft thrives in a mobile and cloud-first world .( soon after, facebook takes over whatsapp. Nadella probably sees that Microsoft has to be more ‘mobile’ in a mobile world- he seems to be open to accepting the areas in which Microsoft lags behind)

As we start a new phase of our journey together, I wanted to share some background on myself and what inspires and motivates me.

Who am I? (very very humble man)

I am 46. I’ve been married for 22 years and we have 3 kids. And like anyone else, a lot of what I do and how I think has been shaped by my family and my overall life experiences. Many who know me say I am also defined by my curiosity and thirst for learning. I buy more books than I can finish. I sign up for more online courses than I can complete. I fundamentally believe that if you are not learning new things, you stop doing great and useful things. So family, curiosity and hunger for knowledge all define me. ( this is a sincere attempt to connect with the young and restless engineers at Microsoft)

Why am I here?

I am here for the same reason I think most people join Microsoft — to change the world through technology that empowers people to do amazing things. I know it can sound hyperbolic — and yet it’s true. We have done it, we’re doing it today, and we are the team that will do it again. 

(emphatic repetition is often indicative of doubt- could have been phrased much better)

I believe over the next decade computing will become even more ubiquitous and intelligence will become ambient. The coevolution of software and new hardware form factors will intermediate and digitize — many of the things we do and experience in business, life and our world.  This will be made possible by an ever-growing network of connected devices, incredible computing capacity from the cloud, insights from big data, and intelligence from machine learning. (summing up quite accurately that Microsoft is a part of a universe, as opposed to its position about a decade ago, when it was the quite the universe itself)

This is a software-powered world . It will better connect us to our friends and families and help us see, express, and share our world in ways never before possible. It will enable businesses to engage customers in more meaningful ways.  (Emphasis on co-created solutions, as opposed to an anarchist approach of take what is offered)

 I am here because we have unparalleled capability to make an impact. (the only non-functional, wholly unnecessary statement in the email)

Why are we here?

In our early history, our mission was about the PC on every desk and home, a goal we have mostly achieved in the developed world. Today we’re focused on a broader range of devices. While the deal is not yet complete, we will welcome to our family Nokia devices and services and the new mobile capabilities they bring us. (surprising lack of reverence in language here- the historical successes of Microsoft could’ve been summed up much better)

As we look forward, we must zero in on what Microsoft can uniquely contribute to the world. The opportunity ahead will require us to reimagine a lot of what we have done in the past for a mobile and cloud-first world, and do new things.

We are the only ones who can harness the power of software and deliver it through devices and services that truly empower every individual and every organization. We are the only company with history and continued focus in building platforms and ecosystems that create broad opportunity. (many may find this claim itself incorrect- since the tone is trying to inspire- he could’ve done much better to speak about engaging entrepreneurial and problem-solving energy of employees within the organisation to come up with nimble, exciting, opportunistic solutions)

 Qi Lu captured it well in a recent meeting when he said that Microsoft uniquely empowers people to “do more.” This doesn’t mean that we need to do more things, but that the work we do empowers the world to do more of what they care about — get stuff done, have fun, communicate and accomplish great things. This is the core of who we are, and driving this core value in all that we do — be it the cloud or device experiences — is why we are here. (the human angle is always compelling- an example of transforming a life would’ve been very relevant here)

What do we do next? (inclusive and positive)

To paraphrase a quote from Oscar Wilde — we need to believe in the impossible and remove the improbable. (vague)

This starts with clarity of purpose and sense of mission that will lead us to imagine the impossible and deliver it. We need to prioritize innovation that is centered on our core value of empowering users and organizations to “do more.” We have picked a set of high-value activities as part of our One Microsoft strategy.  And with every service and device launch going forward we need to bring more innovation to bear around these scenarios. ( he is reiterating a very basic shift to innovation- which is something MS is not really known for- and this is the second instance- he has come back to it, so he means it)

Next, every one of us needs to do our best work, lead and help drive cultural change. We sometimes underestimate what we each can do to make things happen and overestimate what others need to do to move us forward. We must change this. (he is talking about what slows his employees down- maybe hierarchy- and a need to change that  as an organisation)

 Finally, I truly believe that each of us must find meaning in our work. The best work happens when you know that it’s not just work, but something that will improve other people’s lives. This is the opportunity that drives each of us at this company.

Many companies aspire to change the world. But very few have all the elements required: talent, resources, and perseverance. Microsoft has proven that it has all three in abundance. And as the new CEO, I can’t ask for a better foundation. Let’s build on this foundation together. (he is buying time and room for himself to experiment here- since the environment is perfect, with talent resources and perseverance- the result of his experiments is not just his own responsibility, but that of everybody. This is a statement of collective ownership)


(Call me just that!)

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